Aetna International

Call for help saves woman’s life in Mozambique medical emergency

May 18 2016

A woman living and working in Mozambique almost lost her life following an incomplete operation on her abdomen. Fortunately her sister called Aetna International for emergency help in time to get the woman evacuated and in the hands of medical experts who saved her life.

Aetna International’s Care and Response Excellence (CARE) team in Farnborough, United Kingdom, received a phone call at 2 a.m. GMT. The caller said that her sister, a member of one of Aetna’s global health insurance plans, was extremely unwell in a hospital in Mozambique, and that her condition was declining very quickly.

The clinical team at Aetna International immediately assessed the situation and discovered that after experiencing severe stomach pains, the member had been admitted to a nearby hospital to have a stomach abscess drained. During the surgery, however, doctors found not one abscess but two. Uncertain of how to respond to this complex development, the hospital medical staff had  patched her up with gauze — leaving her stomach open — and left her in the hospital. It was at this point that the member’s sister reached out to Aetna International for urgent help. Less than 12 hours later, the member was on her way into potentially life-saving surgery in a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“This was one of the worst cases I have come across from a medical point of view,” said Mitesh Patel, M.D., medical director of Aetna International. “If the sister hadn’t called us when she did, things would have ended badly. Her call enabled us to act immediately and get the patient the care she needed.”

The CARE team serves as a single point of contact, helping Aetna International plan members access the care they need, and coordinates routine and urgent care. And when it’s necessary, the CARE team can arrange for an emergency medical evacuation to a different location to provide specialist treatment.

Editor’s note: The CARE team handles Aetna members’ clinical and emergency evacuation needs outside the U.S.